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Things Jesus Didn't Say: "Hate Gays and Be Glad When Someone Kills Them." [Jun. 14th, 2016|10:18 pm]
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Just to be perfectly clear about this, and the easiest way to check up on what I'm saying:  Read the Gospels, in a good translation (avoid the so-called "Conservative Bibles" that are not accurate to the existing oldest texts.)  King James is OK, not the best, but OK.  My desk Bble is The New English Bible, the New Testament part coming out first in 1961, benefitting from additional scholarly study and the discovery of older texts than were available to those working in the 17th century.

Jesus did not say (or, if you're not convinced the Gospels come remotely close to what the historical Jesus said, Jesus has not been claimed to say) that homosexuals were sinful and deserved death.  Jesus did not say to hate homosexuals.  Jesus did not say to attack homosexuals.  Jesus did not mention homosexuals male or female.  The only types of people whose sexual behavior Jesus commented on were 1) men who divorced their wives, and 2) men and women who committed adultery (that is, they were married and they willingly had sex with someone other than their spouse.   And that is why I think so-called Christians (individuals, church leaders, entire congregations) who say that some sexual identities (gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, whatever) are totally evil and deserve death and it's OK to rejoice at a massacre in a nightclub...are wrong, and not acting as  Christians at all.  Because the essence of Christianity is following Christ and that's not where Christ went.

So where did all the anti-gay rhetoric come from?   Not from Jesus Christ, the person on whom Christianity is founded, and the Person Christians are told to emulate....but from the Old Testament strictures on male/male sex (where female/female sex isn't mentioned) and from other people, specifically Paul in the various Letters to this and that group of Christians.  And from an attempt to separate Christians from pagans, some of whom were "openly" gay because only Jews and Christians (some Christians) cared.   Yes, there are passages in the Old Testament declaring that sexual acts between men are wrong and God will smite (them, a city, a nation) for doing it. 

There are also passages in the Old Testament that define clean and unclean foods and required rules for living a holy life than 99.999% of Christians never even think about.  Including some of the most gay-hating.  (Chicken-fried steak with cream gravy...not OK.   Hamburger and milkshake, not OK.   Baby back ribs, pork chops, pork sausage, ham:  not OK.   Crawfish  and crab boils, not OK.  And lots more.) 

In the New Testament, we mostly have Paul, formerly Saul, who converted from a self-righteous Pharisee persecuting the early Church--a well-educated, high-ranking religious lawyer, thoroughly familiar with Jewish law--a group most eager to destroy this (to them perverted and disgusting) new branch of their religion.   He had a religious experience on the road to Damascus, he changed his mind...but he carried with him all the scholarship and deeply engrained beliefs of his former occupation--rooting out heretics.  So OK, now he believed Jesus had been the Messiah, and had been raised from the dead...but he hung onto a lot of things familiar to him (not surprising) and added them in, from his own certainty (which never wavered) that Jesus would have said that if only Jesus had thought of it, or had time.  Including a lot of his own certainty that God was more concerned with sexual behavior than with all those things Jesus actually said.

So if Jesus didn't say anything about homosexuality in the Gospels, what was he spending time talking about and teaching about?   The abuse of worldly power by judges, priests, tax collectors, soldiers, rich people, proud people...and the connections between worldly power and money, the way money corrupts human interactions, warping them and leads to abuses of power.  Greed, cruelty, scoffing and ridicule (verbal bullying), dishonesty and cheating (especially the poor), quarreling and fighting.   The duty of everyone to love not just friends, not just the person next door, but strangers, people outside the family, neighborhood, village, town.  That love isn't just a word, but a series of acts: feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, clothing the naked, giving water to the thirsty, visiting the sick and imprisoned, noticing people in need (any need) and providing it.   Not labeling people as evil (not judging) because human judgments are skewed by human faults that those who have them often don't recognize. 

Parable after parable.  Sermon after sermon.   One on one, one on a group, one to a vast audience: the same basic messages: don't be greedy, don't be cruel, don't value money, clothes, jewels over the life that comes with living in the spirit of love, don't huddle up in safety and let others suffer, don't spend all your time criticizing others when you're imperfect yourself.  Make your life of value by  investing in generosity, kindness, gentleness, love, using the talents you've been given to make things better for others as well as yourself.  Feed, clothe, house, heal, visit, encourage,  That's what love is.  And love casts out fear.

It's not easy.  He knew it wasn't easy; he flat said it wasn't easy and his followers could expect persecution because they would be going against the flow.   It's easy to be scared--it was easy then and it's easy now and it's always been easy to be scared.  And scared people curl in on themselves, huddle up, form tight little groups to keep others out, to keep the resources for themselves.   They make up reasonable sounding reasons not to share, not to help others ("It teaches them to be dependent.  It's bad for their character.  They don't deserve it.")   Fear convinces them there are more enemies, more dangers, than they can handle, so they must be hard, cruel, selfish, and show anger and hatred to anyone who's not in their group.

They "love" only their own, but their love isn't the free-flowing love Jesus was talking about.   Love cannot take away fear unless it is allowed to grow, and push fear out because there's no room for it--and to grow,  it must be acted out as Jesus said to act it out. Now some hate-preaching churches do have outreach--but it does not extend past their familiar comfort zone.  They will feed the deserving hungry.   They will house the deserving homeless.   They may at the same time be turning away those they feel aren't deserving (I've run across churches unwilling to help alcoholics or drug addicts or people not of their denomination or gays, just to start with.)

So...when a church says gays are evil and against God and deserve death....they are teaching hatred, not love, and that's not Christian.  Same if they say that about any group.  They're wrong.   And yes, that's a judgment.  And I am, God and I both know, fallible and biased.  But for those who care about Scripture, I have Scripture on my side, and a whole lot of better scholars than I am in my denomination.   I am not trying to make new doctrine: I am sticking to what Jesus taught.  "I give you a new commandment: Love one another as I have loved you."

From: geekmerc
2016-06-15 03:52 am (UTC)
Amen, Sister.

I know that sometimes we don't agree when you are angry, but this really spoke to me. You didn't even dip it in anger at those who have such beliefs.

It's not our place to judge, only love and help others. Of course we may not agree with others' choices. I can't even agree with all of my own in the past.

I know a lot of preppers. Internally, I agree that being prepared is important. The problem is, a person who is prepared for a disaster is likely to protect themselves and their own livelihood. They can't feed everyone, so they likely will feed no one but those closest to them. I can't correlate this with Christianity. I think being prepared is learning how to find a way to help everyone around you.

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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2016-06-15 04:13 am (UTC)
One of the defining memories of my childhood was when a wave of panic about nuclear war swept over our town, with some people digging bomb shelters in their yards and others not...and my mother explaining to me why she would not even consider it. She would not have a bomb shelter because she was not prepared to turn away any desperate person in need. She was a gun owner who despised guns "only good for killing people" (hunting for meat was different.) She took the obligation to help right down to handing out food if someone came to the door and said they were hungry. "You aren't poor," she told me often, "unless if someone comes to the door hungry, you cannot water the soup and cut the bread in two."

She said a defining memory of her childhood was when her older brother tricked her into eating something, then told her it was poisonous and she was going to die (with colorful descriptions of same.) She ran inside crying to her mother, and her mother said "I think you should sit quietly and think about why you're afraid to go meet God." Mother said the fear of death--from any cause--never hit her as strongly again. And so, when others were getting hysterical about nuclear war, and talking about how they'd slam the door on the fools who hadn't built their own shelters, she didn't panic.

She did however prepare for the likely disasters--we had hurricanes. So I also learned early about keeping a stockpile of food (and changing it out) and water containers and how to make a toilet for when you couldn't flush, and what to do when the roof leaks and the ceiling drywall is starting to bulge, and stuffing towels into the windowframes and so on.
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[User Picture]From: fiatincantatum
2016-06-15 05:01 am (UTC)
This is wonderful, thank you!
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[User Picture]From: theidolhands
2016-06-15 05:43 am (UTC)

But then someone always believes that whatever is different deserves to die, regardless of reasons or what that difference happens to be (all things also being relative).

And in this case, it seems we may have been dealing with the greatest hate of all: self-hate.

i.e. notice how fast known terrorist radical Muslim organizations were to take credit for something that they may have had nothing to do with.

Edited at 2016-06-15 05:44 am (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2016-06-15 12:25 pm (UTC)
And notice how fast people jumped on the Muslim connection, and how much less was made of the white guy from Indiana bringing weapons to the LA Pride parade. And how references were made to 9/11, not to the bombing of gay nightclubs by radical Christian extremists like the Olympic bomber.

Yes--we are all at least somewhat inclined to draw lines that shut some out, and then decide they're so dangerous. And we are all vulnerable to fear-based thinking and fear-inducing propaganda--hence the popularity of a Trump (or many other previous fear-mongers) including every branch of every religion that begins to fear its power over its adherents is weakening, and decides to scare them into obedience and give them someone to hate.
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[User Picture]From: saare_snowqueen
2016-06-15 06:33 am (UTC)
This was absolutely wonderful. Thank you. A few addenda:

I have long felt that Paul/Saul's hatred of sex, women and homosexuality was because he was deeply closeted himself.

I understand your liking for The New English version, but as one raised on the magnificent language of The King James version, this will always be closest to my heart. Did you know the the Bishop of Winchester (main translator of said was a neighbour and drinking buddy of Will Shakespeare and that there is a body of circumstantial data pointing to him having a finger or three in the text.

Finally (or perhaps this should come first because it became the bedrock of my religious bigotry skepticism) were the comments of my own Methodist minister who said that while he knew from reading the Bible stories that Jesus drank wine, he personally Minister Knorr didn't approve of it and so it was banned in his church and should be banned everywhere. I rest your case.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2016-06-15 12:12 pm (UTC)
I also grew up with the King James version and love the language--and very much dislike modern translations that ignore still-in-use words for clumsy, ugly approximations (e.g. changing "manger" to "feeding box.") I also grew up with the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, and once knew all all the canticle chants in its Morning Prayer service. But became convinced, reluctantly, that scholarship, including additional texts discovered in the 20th c., made some newer translations a more accurate reflection of the original intent. And, for those who did NOT grow up with the earlier language, it can be a barrier--so I read, and quote from, a more contemporary (only 50 year old now) translation. But, we still have King James and the '28 BCP around the house, for their beauty and the recollections they bring with them. And I still prefer some of the arrangements from the 1940 Hymnal to those simplified (!) in the 1982. "O be joyful in the Lord, all ye lands; serve the Lord with gladness, and come before his presence with a song..." had some lovely settings then.

As for Paul...I have heard that thought before, and have even entertained it. He's a very annoying character, in his letters--though there's now evidence that he didn't write all the letters later attributed to him, so...hmmm. My feeling is that he was used to authority, to laying down the law, prior to his conversion, and just as I've seen converts from one denomination to another bring along attitudes from their prior association into the new one--and try to change the new one in that direction--I think Paul did the same, with the practiced skill he'd had before.
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[User Picture]From: listmakerlisa
2016-06-15 03:57 pm (UTC)

Well said

I agree, but perhaps it's because I'm also Episcopalian. We're a pretty open-minded bunch.
That said, I'm also a geography and composer. As Geographer, I recognize that western Asia is the hotbed of three religions because it was the tollbooth for the Spice Road and the Silk Road, and many thoughts and discussions and philosophies came through there. It's sort of like the three religions are two siblings and a parent who are just never going to get along. The parent is not proud of how the children turned out, doesn't approve of their choices, and thinks they're generally off target. The children don't understand why their parent doesn't understand them, and they don't really get each other because they have another parent who influenced them as well. Christianity has Greek & Roman cultural influences, and Islam has Arabian and Egyptian cultural influences. When they both look back at where they came from, both are in trouble. When they all three decide to look at what they hold in common, and maybe let Buddhism give them some advice, they can settle down and put up with each other.
As for LGBTQ, humans are a continuum. We are not all cookie cutter, and isn't that a reason for celebration? You are right on target that fear is the cause, love is the cure. Christians need to remember this, and ditch the culture of fear that pervades the current discussion. Murder is in the first 10 rules for everyone, and it is wrong. Period. Always.
We need to listen to the voice of reason on both, no ALL sides of the issue, figure out the trigger points that cause the fear reaction, and then solve these problems.
Otherwise, we'll fight until we're sick and tired of fighting and killing and dying, and then we'll do what we could have done all along. We'll talk.
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[User Picture]From: ann_mcn
2016-06-15 10:04 am (UTC)
Oh, excellent!

The Bible has internal contradictions, and of course, all those Levitical rules that we ignore. The core, the touchstone, in that case is what Jesus said (or did not say).

Fascinating that no one follows the rules against harvesting the corners and edges of fields so that the poor could come help themselves. And Jubilee! Forgive all debts every 50 years. Has that every been done?
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2016-06-15 12:17 pm (UTC)
There were farmers where I grew up that allowed gleaning after harvest (though not by leaving the edges and corners unharvested. But monoculture (and we were not a grain-producing area, other than field corn in a a minority of fields) and very large fields made it difficult to get more than a basket or bucket of one vegetable. My mother, who believed in concrete learning, took me gleaning in a carrot field once, just as she had me pick cotton once. (And yes, I know neither was anything like the hard work that field workers did all day long, day after day. But once you've done it at all, you can certainly imagine doing it longer better than if you drive by the fields and sniff over how dirty the people are doing "stoop labor.")
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[User Picture]From: ann_mcn
2016-06-15 11:19 pm (UTC)
Yeah, big monoculture farms aren't suited to gleaning, which says something about our society.

My folks pulled off the road on a long trip, and took us into the field so that we'd have the experience of picking cotton. As you said, only a few bolls, but it made an impression.

And, Paul is a challenge. I've been reading his epistles all my life, and there are some lovely passages, but I don't like him. He's whiny, and humblebrags.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2016-06-16 01:52 pm (UTC)
Yes, that's my impression of Paul, too. At one point in my life, I suggested that since Paul's attitudes towards sex and women had put quite a few people off Christianity, his full entry to Heaven might be deferred while he sat in a little room having to meet each of them, as they came in, so they could tell him what they thought of him and exactly how he had impeded their journey. I was certainly ready to tell him exactly what I thought. I had it all ready in my head. That point was decades ago; I still mentally roll my eyes when reading the epistles, but no longer feel so confident in my ability or right to judge. Perhaps he, like most of us, was--or thought he was--doing the best he could.

But oh, my, those humblebrags. "I could tell you what I suffered (complete with a list), more than anyone, but I won't, because I'm just a nothing, a mere worm, completely humbled now, watch me grovel, I grovel _better than anyone else_, but I take no pride in it..."
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[User Picture]From: thewayne
2016-06-15 01:49 pm (UTC)
My takeaway of the Christianity that Jesus taught was (A) Love your neighbor as yourself/do unto others as you would have them do unto you, and (B) be an example to others so that your exemplary life will bring them to God.

Why is it that the people who live this way never make the news? And the so-called, self-identified Christians who don't live this way are always making the news?
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[User Picture]From: fatcook
2016-06-15 02:52 pm (UTC)
THIS! This is so beautiful written and makes all the points.

Like I said in another post, I came for the knitting and stayed for everything else.

Thank you for being a rational voice in the storm.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2016-06-15 03:20 pm (UTC)
I will admit it took me 2 1/2 days and a lot of prayers to calm down enough to write it as it is. For the first two days nothing of this made it to the keyboard (though a lot of tweets did) while parts of it rolled through my head in highly inflammatory form. Rationality is sometimes very hard to achieve.
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[User Picture]From: kengr
2016-06-15 06:35 pm (UTC)
A friend's tumblr has a post that gets much the same idea across

It's also amazing how many politicians are expressing sympathy yet when you check their voting record and speeches, you find that they are *very* anti-gay.

And the way that the fact that it was "Latin Night" at the club and most of the victims were latino seems to have escaped the talking heads.

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[User Picture]From: kengr
2016-06-15 06:41 pm (UTC)
Oh yeah, almost forgot. A lot of the "anti-homosexual" stuff in the old testament seems to have been aimed at keeping Jews from participating in the rituals of neighboring cultures. Ditto for several other oft ignored rules.

Cloth woven of two kinds of fiber? clothing used in some ceremonies for the gods.

Men wearing Women's clothing? Same thing.

Men lying with men? Often occurred as what used to be called "temple prostitution".

So it was much like Catholics being told they couldn't join the Masons or Shriners.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2016-06-16 01:35 pm (UTC)
Except for a particularly dense GOP Congressman who argued that PULSE wasn't a gay club but a young peoples' club because there were a lot of Latinos there. (How many ways can Pete Sessions go wrong in one conversation? We could count the ways, but it would be depressing.)

I think it was VOX that first put out a list of all the Senators and Congresscritters who were now offering their "thoughts and prayers" ....along with their voting record on LGBT issues.
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[User Picture]From: merseine
2016-06-15 08:20 pm (UTC)
Thank you.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2016-06-16 01:37 pm (UTC)
I love that logo, merseine. It's the first time I've seen it. Your design?
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[User Picture]From: merseine
2016-06-17 01:06 am (UTC)
No, it's not. I believe it was made by Rainbow Graphics but I could be wrong.

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From: (Anonymous)
2016-06-16 07:07 am (UTC)

Your Post of June 14

Thank you.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2016-06-16 01:38 pm (UTC)

Re: Your Post of June 14

You're welcome.
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[User Picture]From: filkferengi
2016-06-17 12:40 pm (UTC)
Thank you for this.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2016-06-21 08:09 pm (UTC)
You're very welcome.
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[User Picture]From: ann15warsaw72
2016-06-21 07:52 pm (UTC)
I am thrilled you left comments open on this post because I've read a few of your religious/political entries in the past couple years, and none of them had comments enabled. I totally understand why, but I'm so happy to have the chance to say "THANK YOU" for writing this - and all the others!!! God bless you always. You make me proud to be female. I've made lots of mistakes in my life and your writing speaks so loud and clear to me. Many, many thanks, I can't say it enough. In this entry here especially you have answered so many questions that I've had. I've tried Bible study and I appreciate everything you're saying about the translations and especially context. I've been fortunate to have heard some brilliant sermons from men who are truly blessed by God - but I've never heard them touch on this subject quite the way you have. Same about the way men treat women.

What you wrote in this entry is exactly what I've been saying for years. And from the comments I said the same thing about the hypocritical politicians, and how the Indiana guy in California got swept under the rug.

Love God, love one another. It's pretty clear what we as Christians are called to do. The end.

God bless you always!!
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2016-06-21 08:09 pm (UTC)
Thank you...sometimes I'm leaving on a trip, or up against a deadline, when I write something that could result in comments going blooey! if I'm not there to moderate. This time I knew I'd be around for days with some time on my hands. (Well, not really, but you know what I mean. In the house, willing to skimp on chores to respond online.

I'm glad they've worked for you.
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